Walking Alongside Moms Across the World

{Disclosure: City Moms Blog Network has partnered with Food for the Hungry to initiate change in communities around the world facing extreme poverty. In May 2016, Food for the Hungry sponsored an educational trip to Guatemala for three members of the City Moms Blog Team.}

Guatemala. As we were flying in, my limited knowledge could only grasp that this tiny country, in comparison to ours, was one where the poverty rates are such that most Americans cannot even comprehend: more than 75% of Guatemalans lie below the poverty line, meaning their income is such that they are unable to purchase basic goods and services that their families desperately need. The incredible landscape, lush green with an intense natural beauty that surrounds such poverty, is an incredible contrast, but one that allows you to see beauty everywhere you look, even in the midst of the conditions that otherwise might shock you.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog

In May, I had the honor, along with two other representatives of City Moms Blog Network, of visiting three communities in the Huehuetenengo region of Guatemala to learn about Food for the Hungry and their mission to end all forms of human poverty. As an organization, Food for the Hungry goes into countries suffering from extreme poverty and asks the question, “What are the most difficult places to work?” And that’s where they arrive. They are working in communities in countries all over the world, and we had the opportunity to visit the Lopez, Luminoche and Ical communities.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog
As we traveled the curvy roads from Guatemala City, first heading toward the Lopez community, I wasn’t sure what to expect, however an unplanned meeting with Food for the Hungry’s Director for Guatemala, Julio, had left us with a specific commission. This wise man, who knew why we were there, told us,

Do not see their poverty. Instead, see the richness that is within these people. The only differences between us are the opportunities that are presented in our lives.

He set us up to see the commonalities between the families we would encounter and our own.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog

As we met family after family, speaking without words and being welcomed with smiles from children and shy glances from adults, what he said was more than evident. These families really were just like us, we simply have been afforded opportunities that they can’t even imagine. Food for the Hungry is an organization that recognizes the similarities and does not push the differences between our normal and their own into communities that traditionally don’t work as our own do.

What I came to learn about how Food for the Hungry works is that they truly walk alongside a community. They wait for an invitation to work with community leaders and once they are invited, they work with those leaders to identify what has been successful for their specific community in the past. They then use those already present strengths as a launching pad for where the organization can help by providing resources to enhance those strengths. I was continually impressed with the resources that Food for the Hungry had provided, but moreso, with how it was the community that had been trained to use them, and did, rather than Food for the Hungry staff leading the charge. Julio had also said to us,

We are not going to save them, we are going to learn together and suffer this mutual transformation.

This organization equips and walks with a community in a way I honestly couldn’t have grasped had I not seen it for myself. So often, as Americans, we think we know best and that we can help others in our own way, if only they could see our point of view. Instead, this organization tailors their approach for these communities so that it fits them the best, providing resources and training them to help each other and be truly self-sufficient, to the point of setting an end date to the time they will be done actively working within each community. When that end date comes, the local Food for the Hungry staff and the community hold a celebration, because their leaving is a good thing. It means this community is celebrating its self-sufficiency, their ability to help themselves and continue to support one another in a new way.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog
Among so many other programs, Food for the Hungry works with community leaders to provide, I was overly impressed with the focus on women’s empowerment initiatives. Guatemala is one of the most sexist Latin American countries – gender is a big issue and women are expected to stay within certain roles. They are not naturally afforded the choices we are. Two specific initiatives stood out to me and had me cheering inside!

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog

The first was the training of Volunteer Moms. Breastfeeding and prenatal health education are important and deeply impactful for the next generation. Food for the Hungry educates mothers within the community in both of these areas and then these moms spend their days visiting pregnant and nursing moms. These women make sure other mothers, their neighbors, are aware of how often to visit the health clinic while expecting, exactly what breastfeeding can do for their babies, when to take vitamins and what trouble signs to be aware of. In an area where you can’t simply run to Target for a can of formula, nursing education is vital to the growth and development of babies, who even sometimes drink soda out of a bottle, because the water can be so unsafe. The Volunteer Moms walk up and down intense hills each day, simply to help each other, to better their community from the beginnings of life, raising each other up.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog(A local savings group in Luminoche)

And in a culture where women often aren’t encouraged to have the independence we so often take for granted, who are largely seen as people there simply for having and raising babies and taking care of the animals, Food for the Hungry is training them to lead their own Savings Groups. This term was one we heard almost immediately upon arrival, but I truly couldn’t grasp it until we met with one of these groups. Each week, a group of women combine their small savings into a collective pot. The pot is then available to the women of the group through micro-loans and truly only available to the women within the group, not even to their husbands or other family members. The groups are highly organized – the box goes home with one woman, and the key with another, a third tracking the money in a record book, and each week, those positions are rotated. It’s truly impressive in a culture like theirs for these women to be so empowered and so inspiring that the groups are in high demand.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog

While these empowerment programs are important and impactful, at the heart of their mission, Food for the Hungry simply wants to provide communities with basic nutrition. Malnutrition is the biggest hurdle in life there. Fifty percent of children in Guatemala and 80% of children in rural communities in Guatemala suffer from chronic malnutrition, and while they may appear to be eating enough, given that chips, soda and other junk foods are very readily available, their food is void of nutrition, leaving these children and communities to suffer life long effects.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Malnutrition is the issue that impacts and affects the rest of life. Without proper nutrition, brain development is stunted, education cannot be impactful, income is limited and so on. And while the effects of malnutrition, once in place, cannot be reversed, organizations like Food for the Hungry, with support, can work to eradicate malnutrition and the effects it has on communities for the generations to come. They are working to change the mindset of the current generation so that this generation is able to help the next.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog

This trip personally wrecked me, in the best way, and honestly wrecked any semblance of productivity for our group for quite some time as we absorbed all that we’d encountered. That trip was BIG and in a way that I think will be big for me for a long time. Ask me to speak verbally about it and I get weak kneed, tears flow and my words get caught in my throat, and not because of anything we actually did in our few days in Guatemala, but because we had such a rare opportunity to see the impact that a just few dollars can actually make in the lives of so many people. A colleague had sent us a couple articles and wise words before we left – one part stood out: That if we left that community taking more away for ourselves than what we had to offer them, we’d done it wrong. So far, we have taken more away, given the nature of the trip and its intentions to learn more and bring home that knowledge. Now, I believe, is the time that we can all partner together to show this community that people so far away from them, that they will never meet care about what happens to them, their children, and their entire community.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog

City Moms Blog Network has taken on the challenge of supporting one of the specific communities we visited, Ical, through child sponsorship. There are over 300 children in Ical that need sponsors. By sponsoring a child, not only do you directly impact the life of that child but you change the future of their family and their community.

Imagine this: the greater Twin Cities Moms Blog community includes over 30,000 local moms. If just 1% of our local online community of moms committed to child sponsorship through Food for the Hungry, that national goal would be met by one metro area. If you are reading this article, likely on your smart phone, the chances are that you are afforded more opportunities on a daily basis than these children can even imagine. We are all so incredibly fortunate in ways others are not. Won’t you join with me in supporting this small village. I’m making it my personal mission to see that City Moms Blog makes this goal with the help of local moms in the Twin Cities area. Imagine, if we meet that goal, the celebration we could have knowing that 300 families have been impacted, 300 mothers know that their children have a brighter future ahead, and an entire community of people will have resources available to them to improve their village in ways they may not have even imagined possible a few years ago.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Maybe, like me, when you became a mom, you had truly no idea of the weight you’d carry – the responsibility that you hold to be sure your children know what they need to about the world. Rather than allow my children to have fears about what the world holds, I want them to see the good, the beauty and when they see room for improvement, that it’s circumstances they hope to improve for people, rather than improving the people themselves. These people need only more opportunities, more resources and truly, access to more food.

Partner with Food for the Hungry and Walk Alongside Moms Across the World | Twin Cities Moms Blog

The cost is $35 per month, and while you develop a relationship with one specific child and his or her family, the sponsorships go to affect the community as a whole and provides for programs that impact all of the children in your sponsored child’s community. You can be part of the hope for Ical, Guatemala.

Make A Global Impact and Sponsor A Child

For about $1 a day, you can bring hope and change to a sponsor child’s life and the community they live in through food, education, clean water and medical treatment.

Your gift of $35 a month can truly make a lasting difference and change a child’s life.



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